Symbolism In Louise Erdrich's The Red Convertible

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Although fighting for a belief is a noble act, people are never the same upon returning. Louise Erdrich makes this imperceptible idea into a concept that all readers perceive after reading the story. In “The Red Convertible,” Louise Erdrich uses symbolism of the red convertible to show how war can negatively affect one’s personality. The red convertible symbolizes Henry’s emotional state throughout the story. Before the war, Henry is a free man whose emotions are expressed outwardly, but upon returning, Henry is a “dead man” who is not in control of himself and cannot express his emotions.

The red convertible that Henry and Lyman (Henry’s brother) buy in the beginning of the story represents the emotional state of Henry. Throughout the story, the way Henry feels is mimicked by the car’s state. When Henry and Lyman first see the red convertible, Lyman says, “I th[ink] of the word ‘repose’ because the car [i]sn’t simply stopped, parked, or whatever. That car repose[s], calm and gleaming”(1). The dictionary defines the word repose as, “peace; tranquility; calm.” Most people will not choose the word, “repose” to describe an inanimate object because to most an inanimate object cannot be calm, for it feels no emotions. When Lyman uses repose to describe a car, the reader can infer that this red convertible is not just a red convertible. In fact, it represents Henry’s well being
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Henry is a free man and expresses his feelings and thoughts before the war. However, after the war, he is not in control of himself and cannot express his emotions. In “The Red Convertible,” the author, Louise Erdrich personifies the red convertible to show how war can affect someone. War is beneficial for a country but not beneficial for the individuals fighting in the war. This is often something that is invisible to the soldiers when they enlist. In “The Red Convertible,” Louise Erdrich makes the invisible,

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